Friday, May 26, 2006

Upcoming Conference

Let me remind folk of the upcoming 2006 Scottish Postgraduate Conference in Theology and Religious Studies held at New College, The University of Edinburgh on 8 June from 9:30am - 4pm.

Here is a summary of the event:

"The 2006 Day-Conference for Postgraduate Students in Scottish departments of Theology & Religious Studies will be held in New College (Edinburgh), Thursday 8 June 2006. The conference is primarily intended to offer research students an opportunity to develop experience in presenting academic conference-papers and participate in critique of their work and that of fellow students.

Proposals for papers are welcome. These should include a title, an abstract of 200-400 words, and a short statement from the student's supervisor confirming the student's status."

Let me encourage you to attend and even give a paper! If any of the Conventiclers are presenting, could we possibly get a preview? Also, if any of our readers will be at the conference and/or are giving a paper, please feel free to gives us a sample of your work in the comments section.

Allow me to get the ball rolling. Below is my abstract:

A Sure Foundation: Christ as the Fundamentum Scripturae in John Owen’s Exposition on Hebrews

In 1668 John Owen published the first volume of his An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews – a work which consisted of a series of preliminary exercitations and an exposition of the first two chapters of the epistle. Owen’s commentary represents the apex of his literary career and exemplifies many of the exegetical techniques of the post-Reformation. However, scholarship on Owen has paid little attention to his exposition.

Owen’s exercitations function as a prolegomena to his commentary and serve as an a priori template for his exposition. In these discourses he endeavoured to outline the main interpretive and theological themes of Hebrews. Central to his argument is the foundational role of promise and fulfilment in the epistle and throughout the Scriptures. More specifically, like many of the Protestant orthodox, Owen identified the person, office, and work of the Messiah as the fundamentum scripturae. This promise/fulfilment axis, which finds its consummation in Christ, provided Owen with a common hermeneutical tool of the seventeenth century to examine the text of Hebrews, bring theological cohesion to the biblical narrative, and defend the fundamental principles of Christianity against Jewish and Socinian errors.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Da Vinci Code Mayhem: A Sure Guide

It was inevitable. At some point, The Da Vinci Code had to be mentioned at least once at The Conventicle...but only briefly, I promise.

Some of you may be interested in reading this excellent article entitled Ungodly Errors: Scholarly gripes about The Da Vinci Code's Jesus by Larry Hurtado, Professor of New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology at The University of Edinburgh.

Prof Hurtado succinctly examines the fallacious claims of the book and movie regarding 1) the divinity of Jesus and 2) the formation of the New Testament canon.

This is a great resource for those interested in quickly catching up to speed with the historical and theological problems of the DVC, but who don't want to cull through the excess of books, articles, websites, interviews, and blogs devoted to this controversy.

Just in case you've not seen it, let me also mention in passing this superb website sponsored by Westminster Theological Seminary.

Monday, May 22, 2006

John Owen: Perseverance & Exegetical Methodology

Notes on Henry Knapp. “John Owen’s Interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6: Eternal Perseverance of the Saints in Puritan Exegesis.” Sixteenth Century Journal XXXIV/1 (2003): 29-52.

This article builds upon Knapp’s previous article on Augustine and Owen. He continues his detailed analysis of Owen’s doctrine of perseverance, but focuses more on his exegetical methodology. He observes that while Roman, Arminian, Lutheran, and Reformed controversies over the doctrine of perseverance in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have received substantial investigation, those who examine the doctrine of perseverance “frequently ignore the exegetical questions which gave rise to much of the debate.” (29-30). Knapp intends to remedy this oversight by focusing upon the seventeenth century exegetical methods of John Owen in his commentary of Hebrews 6:4-6.

Knapp begins his essay by establishing the polemical context of Owen’s writing on perseverance. He provides a brief summary of Jacob Arminius’s exegesis of Hebrews 6:4-6 and the Remonstrant articulation of the doctrine of perseverance in The Five Arminian Articles and Sententia Remonstrantium. He notes a reticence in the writings of Arminius and in The Five Arminian Articles to affirm that a true believer can completely apostatize. However, as a result of pressure by the Synod of Dort, the followers of Arminius were forced to codify their position on perseverance. For example, the belief that true believers could fall away from the faith was clearly articulated in Sententia Remonstrantium. Having set the broader historical context, Knapp proceeds to give a careful description of John Goodwin’s exegesis of Hebrews 6:4-6 in Redemption Redeemed and Owen’s rebuttal of Goodwin in The Doctrine of the Saints Perseverance – a subject which he addressed in his previous article but with less detail.

Knapp then enters into an extended analysis of the exegetical strategies of Owen in his exposition of Hebrews 6:4-6 and notes particularly Owen’s hermeneutical and scholastic methodologies. He contends that hermeneutically Owen 1) gave special attention to the grammatical and syntactical construction of the text, 2) employed the analogies of faith (analogia fidei) and Scripture (analogia Scripturae), 3) considered the historic development of the interpretation of the passage, and 4) never failed to reflect his pastoral interests. Scholastically, Knapp notes that Owen frequently utilized the categories and distinctions available to him in order to delineate the interpretive possibilities of the text.

Knapp summarizes his analysis by stating that Owen’s exposition “reveals the marks of a meticulous seventeenth-century exegete” (45). This article makes a tremendous step towards setting Owen’s commentary in its proper seventeenth century context. For those interested in a more in-depth study of Owen’s exegetical methodology, see Knapp’s outstanding doctoral dissertation, “Understanding the Mind of God: John Owen and Seventeenth Century Exegetical Methodology” (PhD, Calvin Theological Seminary, 2002), from which this article is taken.


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